The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why the Ice Age Mammals Disappeared

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9780387949154: The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why the Ice Age Mammals Disappeared

To help us understand what happened during the Ice Age, Peter Ward takes us on a tour of other mass extinctions through earth's history. He presents a compelling account of the great comet crash that killed off the dinosaurs, and describes other extinctions that were even more extensive. In so doing, he introduces us to a profound paradigm shift now taking place in paleontology: rather than arising from the gradual workings of everyday forces, all mass extinctions are due to unique, catastrophic events. Written with an irresistible combination of passion and expertise, The Call of Distant Mammoths is an engaging exploration of the history of life and the importance of humanity as an evolutionary force.
"Carefully argued...an intelligent and compelling book."-THE OLYMPIAN, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
"Ward deftly summarizes a large body of scientific literature, simplifying complex ideas for the general reader without condescension."-PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Did the overkill really happen?...Peter Ward deftly summarizes the arguments...Ward tells (the story) well."-THE NEW SCIENTIST

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From the Back Cover:

Why are the great mammals that once walked the earth now largely extinct outside of Africa? Of the two suspected culprits, climate change and human hunting, Ward builds a compelling case for human hunting. Humans arrived in Australia about 40,000 years ago, and the marsupial lions and giant kangaroos vanished soon after; they came to New Zealand 2,000 years ago, and the giant moa was quickly gone; and the American extinction coincides with the spread of the first human population there. In order to understand what happened in the Ice Age, Ward takes us on a tour of mass extinctions through earth's history. He presents a compelling account of the great comet crash that killed off the dinosaurs and describes other extinctions that were even worse. In so doing he introduces us to a profound paradigm shift now taking place in paleontology: rather than arising from the gradual workings of everyday forces, all mass extinctions are due to unique, catastrophic events. They throw a wild card into the game of evolution and start the contest anew.

About the Author:

Peter D. Ward is Professor of Geological Sciences, Professor of Zoology, and Curator of Paleontology at the University of Washington in Seattle. His previous books include The End of Evolution and On Methuselah's Trail.

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